In the picturesque Ria de Aveiro region of Portugal, aquatech company Horta dos Peixinhos, founded by Joao Loura, is doing something quite revolutionary with the cultivation of organic Salicornia, known by chefs world-wide as Samphire and Sea Asparagus. This remarkable plant grown in salty marshes offers the tantalising prospect of enjoying the flavour of salt without the associated health drawbacks of its mineral-based cousin.
This pioneering company, nestled in an area historically known for traditional salt production since 1891 and later for its abundance of local fish is now directing its focus towards Salicornia, creating a new chapter in the region's rich history.
Salicornia, is no ordinary plant. It is a green, scale-like, saltwater-tolerant wonder that grows spontaneously in saline environments like Ria de Aveiro. Its value stems from its unique ability to store salts, which endows it with a high nutritional profile, rich in vitamins and minerals.
Source: Horta dos Peixinhos - Saliconia
Horta dos Peixinhos's approach to cultivating Salicornia is eco-conscious and innovative. The production is conducted organically, ensuring no environmental impact and adhering strictly to hygiene & food safety standards. Advanced production techniques are the fruit of years of Research & Development, conducted in partnership with the University of Aveiro.
Joao Loura lives and breaths Saliconia. 'Annually, we produce 10 to 20 tons of organic dehydrated Salicornia and mostly distribute it in bulk. We are looking for further global collaboration. With consumer pressure on sea and mineral salt usage we know the timing is right', says Joao Loura.
Source: Horta dos Peixinhos - Green Salt Powder
Salicornia offers a range of health benefits. It is a known diuretic and medicinal plant, with properties such as being a immunostimulant, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and anti-diabetic. These qualities contribute significantly to the prevention of high blood pressure problems, echoing the research findings differentiating Salicornia salt from common mineral or sea salt in its lack of hypertension-inducing effects.
Horta dos Peixinhos, through its dedicated cultivation of Salicornia, is at the forefront of quite a remarkable gastronomic innovation. Their product, rich in historical and cultural significance, is not only a testament to sustainable agriculture but also a beacon of hope for those seeking healthier dietary alternatives.
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***Ria de Aveiro is a coastal lagoon in Portugal. It is located on the Atlantic coast of Portugal, south of the city of Porto. This lagoon is one of the most important and beautiful on the Portuguese coast, extending parallel to the sea for about 45 kilometers. It's a complex ecosystem that includes a variety of habitats like salt marshes, channels, and islets. The city of Aveiro, often referred to as the "Venice of Portugal" due to its picturesque network of canals and boats, lies at the edge of this lagoon. The Ria de Aveiro is not just an area of natural beauty but also a region of significant economic activity, particularly in terms of fishing, salt extraction, and aquaculture.